tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 12, 2014 2:00am-4:01am EST
help doing the assessment how does this stand? how famous are the people we are with? say are careful to sprinkle out the famous people so nobody feels they have a bad seat. . . . . usually american at least the ones i have seen. for the french president i don't know whether it's a gesture of franco-american amity but they will sprinkle in french wines are champagnes but then you spend quite a while just talking with the people at your table and other places and finally they have somebody who tells everyone to sit down to maximize their schmoozing time. >> what is the obvious like in the white house and the state dining room? >> long ago i worked for jimmy carter when he was the
president. i was a speechwriter and i never got to attend the state dinners as a guess guest. i was under a lot of stress trying to make the toast but the ambience for the guests i think as far as i can tell it's just fun. people are almost universally excited to be there. i'm not trying to make this sound silly but it would be deal dishonest to say people don't enjoy this because there are a lot of usually well-known people there. they have common interest generally for the visit and it is always interesting just to see the five and the body language of the american president and his spouse and the foreign leader, what they are like and how they carry themselves. the vibe is a positive one. >> how important are these dinners for american diplomacy and how to heads of state view their visit at these events? >> i think they can be very important. for example when the chinese leader at the time i believe it
may have been hu jintao in his early stage came during the george w. bush demonstration there was kind of the chill in the u.s. chinese relations so he got a lunch rather than a dinner. he started his visit in seattle not in washington d.c. so that was a sign of the cooling of the relationship. hu jintao came in obama's early time and had a state dinner and was taken seriously in china as this was a sign of amity. from the u.s. point of view it's a celebration. on the seat receiving end of the calibration that the u.s. can give to indicate its degree of warmth or coolness to a visiting partner. >> for those who will never be invited to a state dinner give us a sense of the sights and sounds and what you are looking at, what it feels like and how it comes across that you can't capture on television. >> i will try to give a quick panorama. you get out usually by taxi because there's no place to park on the east side of the white house which is the social wing
where the first lady and eventually the first gentleman will be based. you walk through there and something inside the white house people may not recognize, it's full of these excellent pictures usually pictures of whoever's the current incumbent. there has been controversy about the white house official photographer pete souza anopoli singh opportunities in the obama administration. you walk through this long-haul that has historical memorabilia and all these interesting large photos of current presidents going around the country. you see a lot of military people, u.s. military and occasionally some of the foreign ones wearing their dress outfits with medals and the receiving line, there is a kind of, everybody is looking as if he or she is not excited but you can tell that they are going through the lines. the most impressive display i have seen of coolness under
challenge was when during late in the clinton administration in 1998 my wife and i got to go to a dinner for the korean president and right in front of us was a famous korean conceptual artist who is having some kind of i don't know whether he had -- coming in with a walker and was very unsteady. he was immediately in front of my wife. as he was shaking hands with president bill clinton my wife about 3 feet behind this korean artist in his mid-60's or so his trousers fell down and he was wearing nothing underneath them. on a think live feed tv at the time you had a completely bottom half of an older korean gentleman with bill clinton looking every second into his eyes as the man's assistant pulled up his trousers. uchitel the korean president was not amused by this one little bit but bill clinton acted as if ,-com,-com ma he was taking it all in stride.
the next person bill clinton greater was my wife so he had a raise on his eyebrows as to what just happened. usually things are more control than that. the other time i had seen something unexpected was during the chinese dinner early in obama's time. somebody started ringing out his smartphone to take pictures and suddenly everybody was doing it. you have the ceo of soft india had the pms from china and michelle quan who are starting to take pictures and jackie chan was at our table taking pictures with a smartphone. i don't know that it then done at state dinners before but when someone started doing it they'll started doing it taking pictures of the president obama and hu as they were working the crowd table by table. >> finally as you remember the evening of entertainment how did the night conclude and what do you remember? >> so it's, this also is very
interesting in the calibration of the signal that the president of the united states at the time. what i remember most vividly was the chinese state dinner where was essentially a celebration of american jazz. i believe as herbie hancock and several other great american jazz singers or instrumentalists. president obama said to the visiting chinese that culture is part of our connection and we would like to highlight something that's an important part of our culture and then i believe the famous chinese pianist got up there and played with herbie hancock. that was a sign of cultural connection so it's one of the ways like the opening ceremonies of the olympics anymore condensed form that the united states can give a signal of what part of its cultured want to highlight and i thought that wal with the chinese and american attendees. >> james fallows of the atlantic
magazine thanks for adding your perspective to tonight's coverage. >> my pleasure. >> you were looking at the scene from the bookseller which is on the ground floor of the white house. we will continue to watch as many of the nearly 350 guests arrive arrive for tonight state dinner gather. they will then head up to the state floor including the blue room which is where the obamas at this hour grading the president of france. >> mr. richard winter and mrs. alexandra winter. ms. christine lagarde.
ms. alexandra stanton and ms. donna stanton. [inaudible conversations] the honorable kevin johnson mayor of sacramento and ms. michelle lee. >> i'm really excited. this is my first state dinner. for my wife and i to big treat. i have learned to french phrases. >> go ahead. >> i can't remember. thank you.
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] most of the guests have arrived in you are looking at the scene from an area known as the bookseller if you are on tour at the white house. it's one of the first locations before you had upstairs. this is a burst the area where the guests arrive before going to the state florida. we said earlier the president and mrs. obama hosting french
president hollande and one of the rooms therein is the blue room which we should point out was decorated during the monroe administration with furniture from paris in 1817. a number of french-american connections on display tonight. and later in the program a chance for you to have a conversation with joanna smoot who served in the obama administration is white house social secretary. we will also get your calls and comments as well. some background on this one is the seventh state or official visit dinner by the obama administration. the location for tonight's dinner is the south lawn pavilion and it's being turned into a montney inspired gala in honor of the french president. there will be 350 invited guests and you saw a moment ago r&b singer mary j. blige who will perform tonight and the cuisine will be american base but also a french inspired floral arrangement. some background on u.s. and french relations the last state visit by a french president was back in 1996 during the clinton
administration french president jacques jaroch and the last official dinner was during the final year or two of the bush administration with french president sarkozy. by the way francois hollande is coming stag to tonight's dinner and we will talk more about that later but first a rifle which is part of the pomp and ceremony in the news conference that took place between the two leaders but it began shortly after 9:00 this morning on the crisp cold winter morning but temperatures in the 20s. no rain and no snow and one of the photographs released by the white house earlier today shows the president french president hollande with the french flag. here is more from the south lawn this morning at the white house. [background sounds]
that's the extent of my french. [laughter] few places in the world warmed the heart like paris in the spring. this morning we are going to do our best with washington in the winter. [speaking french] >> france is america's oldest ally and in recent years we have deepened our alliance. today on behalf of the american people and michelle and myself it is a great honor to welcome my friend president hollande and his delegation for their first state visit to united states, in fact the first state visit by a french president in nearly 20 years. [applause] [speaking french]
>> for more than two centuries we have not only proclaimed our ideals, our citizens have led to preserve them from a field in yorktown to the beaches of normandy to the mountains of afghanistan. and today we are honored to be joined by two extraordinary men who were there those historic days 70 years ago. i asked them to stand, proud veterans of d-day who are here in attendance today. [applause] [speaking french]
>> so it's no exaggeration that we stand here because of each other. we owe our freedom to each other of course we americans also thank our french friends for so much else, this capitol city designed by l'enfant our statue of liberty a gift from france and something many americans are especially grateful for, new orleans and the french quarter. [laughter] [speaking french]
>> mr. president like generations before us we now have the tasks not simply to preserve our enduring alliance but to make it new for our time. no one nation can meet today's challenges alone or sees its opportunities. more nations must step up and meet the responsibilities of leadership and that is what the united states and france are doing together. [speaking french] speak to our french friends, i say let's do even more together for the security that our citizens deserve, for the
prosperity that they seek and for the dignity of people around the world who seek what we declared two centuries ago those inalienable rights, those sacred rights of man. [speaking french] president hollande, members of the french delegation we are honored to have you here as one of our strongest allies and closest friends. welcome to the united states. [applause] [speaking french]
>> mr. president, dear barack, dear michelle, ladies and gentlemen it's cold in washington. [laughter] you are right. but it's a beautiful day, a great day for our american friends. and i will speak in french because i am obliged to do that for my country. [speaking french] >> translator: we are received here my delegation and myself and i'm particularly touched by
this perception by the president of the united states. [speaking french] >> translator: we are always united by a history from the beaches of normandy and as you said each of our country knows what it owes to the other, it's freedom. [speaking french] >> translator: yesterday we ran monticello thomas jefferson's residents a great american statesman once ambassador to france who remains one of the most beautiful
[speaking french] >> i wish to demonstrate the fact france will never forget the spirit of sacrifice shown by the nameless heroes to left their home to liberate by cou country and theirs. we will pay tribute to them to remember the normandy landing. i hope you will join me on the 6th of june 2014, 70 years after the landing. [speaking french]
terror. france and the united states stand side by side to make the values prevail. we stand with the united states to address the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons. together to solve the crisis faced by the middle east. together to support africa's development. and another to fight global warming and climate change. [ applause ] [speaking french]
>> one of the highest honors for a visit head of the state is a state dinner. on this day, a crisp clear morning in which the president talked about springtime in paris and winter in washington, d.c. they are hosting their seventh dinner for a special guest like this. the dinner is taking place in a tent on the south lawn. this is continuing coverage by the french president. a chance for you to join in on
the conversation as the social secretary for obama and was responsible to organizing two state dinners for the president of china and mexico. our phone lines are open. those of you in the eastern and central time zone and there is the number for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zones. state dinners have a relatively new phenomenon. we are continuing our series on first ladies. the final program is taking place next monday on president's day. we will be releasing a new poll on now americans view america's first ladies. heather foster is a presidential historian and has written a number of books on the first
ladies. i asked her about the early dinners and how they have evolved since the civil war >> we didn't have anything resembling state dinners during washington because who was coming? we had great big oceans and no heads of state were coming for dinner like now. state dinners were larger dinners for who was in town. the congressman, the court, and a lot of diplomats and that was the extend of a state dinner. they had rental houses that were large and couldn't accommodate the people we have now. if they had 30-40 for dinner that was considered large >> what changied during and aftr
the civil war? >> before the civil war, entertaining at the whitehouse started through dolly madison. she liked to entertain and was a wonderful host. they lived in the whitehouse and she put it on the map. dining at the whitehouse at big important dinners was the expense of it was born by the president as a matter of fact. this is important to remember. there was no budget for official entertaining until the coolidge administration. the president and first lady were given a salary and they took care of those expenses themselves. >> can you give some specific examples of what first ladies brought to the fwin dinners and
the diplomacy in the state house? >> the role of the first lady was an evolution. it was determined by the first lady herself what she wished to do. dolly was hands-on and warm. elizabeth monroe, her successor, was more aloof. elizabeth said i am not going to return calls which made her very, very unpopular. and a lot of the women in washington decided they were not going to come. so a lot of the monroe administration dinners were stag affairs. when jackson and van buren were in the whitehouse they were widowers. so they had substitute first ladies who didn't do very much
in the way of official entertaining. they were young girls at 22-25 years old. they didn't have that kind of experience. the one first lady who really started entertaining very nicely was another substitute first lady harriet lane who was acting first lady during the bucannon administration. she had a bit of experience and ent ent entertained graciously. she was in charge of the guest list, seating plans and who was coming and who would be there and who would be introduce and how.
mary lincoln didn't entertainment because there was a war going on and show was morning. after the civil war, entertaining got to be better >> as we moved into the 21st century, to t-- what changed in terms of the role of the first lady? >> transportation was a big factor in what changed. it didn't take six weeks to cross the ocean. you could do it in one week now. and after president wilson was the first president to leave our
shores and go abroad. i think haft went abroad briefly but it was wilson who went abroad and that is when heads of state were coming to the country. during that earlier period, the diplomats were like quasi. they were representing their governments. they were treated royally. i think the first head of state came during the grant administration. and then during roosevelt's administration, he had the brother of wilham who put on a grand affair for him. and the mood of the whitehouse
and oplence increased a lot. >> any examples of a mistake at a state dinner and how a first lady handled that? or a faux pas. >> they with well loved and kept in the protocol loop of who is to go where and everything. but the one story i love the most is the sad story, if you want a sad story, i will tell you one. this is about nelly taft who was first lady in 1910 and about three months in she had a stroke at 48. she had aafacia. she could not read or watch and her mouth drooped and she could
not be seen in public. she is a very active first lady and wanted it like crazy. she was very ambitious. a man named buck painted a beautiful picture. nelly helped prepare a state dinner but couldn't attend. it was a big affair. there was a little room adjoining the state dining room. before the dinner, she comes down to this little room and she is dressed in her beautiful downton abby outfit with jewelry and hair down. and they had a table for one prepared. she sits outside in this little room adjacent to the state dining room and they left the
room ajar is little bit so they can here what was going on. that is a beautiful story >> foster is joining us from virginia. she is the author of a number of books. thanks very much for joining us. >> you are very, very welcome. thank you for having me. >> tune in monday for the final look at the first ladies influence and image. julianna smoot is here. she is a veteran of state dinners. >> i am excited to be here. >> let's get to the guest list. steven cobert. eric cantor. david stern the former nba
commissioner. paul ryan. julia dryfus and 350 people invite fork invited for the dinner tonight. >> that is exciting. >> how do you get an invite? >> it is a long process. we get the dirfferent departmens with the whitehouse together, nscs is a part of it, and it is a building wide planning section. we start meeting three months out with weekly meeting to figure out who we can invite, figure out what the day and
dinner will look like >> last year the president was scheduled to have a state dinner were the president of france because of the nsa that was postponed. today that came up and the president made a point that france is our longest ally. there is a picture from the white house of the presidents yesterday in the home of thomas jefferson and he served as a u.s. envoy to france. as we look at the history of the relations, how is it determined we will have a state dinner for the president of france and what is involved in the decision making progress? >> the country decides what country they would like to honor and what leader they would like to have. and then it goes into the process of figure out a date. it is hard to figure out a date in your family.
imagine across the globe and figure out how to make a date that will work. that is figured out first. and then you go from there. >> the other story that is getting a lot of attention is the french president is here by himself because of the separation from his long-time girlfriend. who is seated next to the president since he is coming alone? thelma goldman and steven coburt is next to the first lady. >> i think that is a good idea. it will make the president feel more comfortable and those are good dinner partners for the president and first lady >> i want to share with you a tweet and you can join in with the #cspan chat.
bill king says you are a c-span junky when you are watching a state dinner over olympic coverage. they are taking a trolley attend on the south lawn. it is being called a monet spring festival. what -- but -- there is a winter approaching soon. >> the whole building, the whole staff, really go all out to host the guess and do everything they can to make it a beautiful ev t event. we have a wonderful flourrist a the whitehouse and the chef are
wonderful. >> give us a sense of what is happening right now? the guest have arrived. we know earlier when the president and first lady greeted the president they went to the blue room and that has monroe furniture. as the guest are moving from one location to the other, what is happening and taking place? >> it is a lot to move a group of 350 people from one place to the other. there are cocktails and orders being passed around and folks are getting out to the tent where they will be seated >> i want to share what sally quinn wrote back in 1975. she said when putting together a guest list, you had to be sure to invite people that should be
invited and don't invite the people that should not be invited and soothe the ones who should be but can't. >> it is building wide effort where you come up with a lot of names of folks you want to have invited to this very special occasion. so folks might be called from the list because, you know, it is a small veneue. 350-person dinner party is big. if it were inside, it would be limited to about 200-250 dinner. so you think about you and you get to bring a guest, it is really 150. >> you get a phone call from someone you know and they say i want to come to the state dinner. you put together one for the chinese head of state and mexican head of state. what do you tell them?
>> if it is somebody i know we will say we would love to be able to accommodate you, let's see what we can do. when you are invited to a state dinner you should do everything you can to attend. we can try to make accommodat n accommodations but it is hard to do. we can make a list of ongoing folks we would like to invite. >> if you get a last-minute cancelation, what do you do? >> there are folks that might drop everything to be on a plane if you want to invite them. we tend to do that.
>> this is a mix of administration, members of congress, eric cantor, nancy pelosi and some famous people like steven coburt. >> and bradley cooper. >> of course. >> it is a really great group. i love we have democrats and republicans attending which i think is so wonderful. that is such a testament to how this is a non-partisan event and it is as a great american tradition and people come together and celebrate. >> mary jay blige and the performer tonight. how does that come about? >> the performers are people that the president and first lady enjoy. and we talk to the honored guest staff to see if there is anybody they would like to hear from or
listen to on their i-pod. you go from there and back to the process of availability. >> our phone lines are open for the eastern and central time zones. and for those of you in the mountain and pacific time zone it is on there. 350 people is a lot of china and silverware. how is that determined? >> there is staff at the whitehouse that has been there for many years. they know if i say i would like to use the regan china and they will say me might not have enough. or if the decor is hot pink you probably don't want to use red. not that we use hot pink. but they will help you figure out the china, and what linens
look the best. >> there is a storm expected to hit washington, d.c. on thursday. what do you do if the weather doesn't cooperate? >> that is the most stressful thing. i can imagine departments were doing a weather call on the phone. luckily it was a beautiful day but it was cold. the decision was to go forward. we have had decisions where it rains and we have the guy standing behind with the umbrella. but the weather is a call that is made the day-of the event >> in the two state dinners you were responsible for; were the inside the whitehouse or did you have the tent? >> for mexico we were inside for dinner and then outside for a tent where beyonce performed.
for china, we had three tables in three different rooms and everything was inside the whitehouse >> your work is done by the time the dinner is underway. so what is your job like on this night? >> you are running around making sure everybody is comfortable. and also enjoys the night. >> how do the obama's repair -- prepare -- for this? >> i think the first lady spends time on what she is going to wear. she is involved with the menu planning. >> this is what the table is looking like. >> it is beautiful. >> the first lady is very
involved. so is the president. they will look at the books and they go up every night a month out they are getting memos about the state dinners. where the invitations are going out, tasting test, and a week before you start the process of a sea and say these are the people we want to sit here >> what will they dine on this evening? >> it is all food inspired by america. there is going to be stuff from the first lady's garden. but chris comeford is the chef and she is amazing. when we had guest chefs, for my first state dinner, we had rick
bales who is an american chef but cooks mexican food. it is hard to fix a dinner for 300 people or even 200 and making sure it all comes out at the same time and it is hot. if you run a restaurant that is great. you can have perfect food with balance. but chris is great and billy is the pastry chef and he is great, too. they have a delightful menu planned >> i would imagine the best is the tasting >> that is very true. and during the holidays there are cookies left over and they will show up and you have to be careful not to eat them. >> annie chicago is on the line. are you with us?
go ahead, please >> hi, let us know your most favorite part of the whole experience was for you. >> well, that is a great question, annie. thank you. i loved the first state dinner. it was big and scary. i was working with a wonderful team both mine and in the social office. it was wonderful to be into that state dinner and saying we did it and people had a great time and no body had a terrible time or got sick. >> you mention the seating plans, what kind of protocol is in involved in that? >> my other social secretary friend would say you would never seat spouses together.
but the obama's feel different about that. they think spouses and friends don't spent enough time together so we seat them together. we typically split up men and women and make it boy/girl. but it varies. >> from houston, texas. kin kingsley is on the phone. >> just a couple questions for you: first of all, what influence or input does mrs.obama have for setting the dinner of the state menu. and given the fact there could be a female president, is the whitehouse set up for a male
first gentlemen. who might be coordinating the state dinners >> ms. obama is very involved with the decor and definitely the menu. she is part of the tasting as well and decides what to serve ultimately. social office in the whitehouse is incrediblely small. i had two deputies -- incredi y incredibly -- small. and that format would probably stay the same, i would think, if there were a female president. i would presume that if the first gentlemen would want to be involved with this, they would
happily take their advice. i think it would just be individual >> this is a photograph from french newspaper that haws the french president with president obama this morning. and i want to talk about changes because he didn't bring his long-term girlfriend. what does that change mean? >> you try to account for every detail, but you cannot be so ridged, you can't be flexible. we were talking about changing the invitation, but the folks that got it received it as it was. we have cligfers down the house
from the social office and they work long hours and can make any changes needed for theman -- for the menus -- >> we welcome the listeners on the radio. we are talking about state dinners. we have our next caller from indiana. >> i wanted to know i also see politici politicians and business people and important people are only invited to the state dinner. do they occasionally let hard working, average americans come? >> that is a great question. it might look like that in the book-sellers as they are
announcing the bradley coopers of the world. there are several hard-working americans that are invited to the dinner. when i was social secretary for the mexican state dinner, we had wonderful folks that were local to washington, d.c. who run non-profits here in towni. the first lady is very adement about having hard-working people. >> you have the president of france, and i want to ask you, france is known for many things, especially their food. does that add to the challenge
for the chef? >> yes, i believe so. i am glad i am not the chef >> how does the whitehouse prepare for the food and wine for somebody who is coming to the united states for a country known for its food and wine. >> any time you have the french president coming there is a little extra pressure as the french are known for their food. there is going to be a little extra emphasis in being sure the t's are cross and i's are dotted. but the food is always taken serio seriously and there are no loose ends typically. >> how was it determined based on your experience of serving past visitors? >> it has a very french take in it. and in other respects a very american take. it is good blending of the two different styles. the first class of caviar, and
quail eggs, and finger link potatoes is a french style. i am sure the executive chef at the whitehouse put her own particular american spin on it. but if i read that without the word american in it i would think this is a french course. this isn't atypical for the state dinners. we tried to do the first dish by honoring an ingredient or plate from their county. the second course is winter garden salad. it is curious because in my recollection there is cheese on the entre so they have moved the
salad to the first place and this is probably a product coming from the whitehouse garden. it looks to be, while it is called a salad, it is probably a room temperature style venl vegetable dish. and very nutritional in keeping with the mandate of a healthy and nutritional lifestyle. the dry aged beef is the next course and that is american through and through. to have the blue cheese on it is a tip of the hat to the french style but a very american blue cheese. even the spelling is the blue american spelling here. there is a blending of these
great american ingredients with a french take on it. the desert is going to be great because you cannot go wrong a chocolate chocolate and vanilla ice cream. it sounds like a light, refreshing healthy menu. the dry-aged rib-eye steak is great. they have a french sensibility with american ingredients and take on it. >> there is a tasting before it is finalized, but what else goes into account? >> the first thing that happens is the state's department
officer of protocol will forward a paper going through the dinner. from the food stamp point we talk about cultural, personal taste and health of the guest. and typically the chef meets with the social secretary or with the first lady to talk about their thoughts on what the menu should be. several menus will be generated addressing all of the different concerns. and from that the first lady picks out a menu or number of courses she likes. there may or may not be a tasting. ms. bush liked them. ms. clinton didn't do that many. if there is a tasting, there is a follow-up and corrections or amendments to the menu. and then we would go through making and remaking and
rehearsing if you will to get them the way you want them. a state dinner is like a broadway opening. once it hits the bright lights, you have to hit your mark and you cannot be experimenting at the last second. the dinner isn't the only thing happening that night so you have to find the niche within the entire options >> what about the vegetarian options? >> there are a number of options. when the invitations are ontario out there is a line that says let us know if you have dietary concerns. rather they are vegan, vegetarian or non-gluten it will
be addressed. the whitehouse is a private home so the first lady wants to be gracious and having people coming into their home and be comfortable. so in many cases we go out of the way to make sure all of the alternative menus were offered. american wines from california and washington state -- the reasoning behind that? the whitehouse is all about highlighting american food, wine and entertaining. so even though france has a story history of wine, we are pretty good at it. i was looking at the wines. it would appear we have a couple really, really good ones. again, i think they are in the french style but by american producers. i am looking at the sparkling wine. it would appear that it is
montechello in virginia which is an interesting tie between jefferson and the french. i think they are going to be excellent wines. they are not well known but they are exceptional. >> and the logistics that go into this. this isn't a large whitehouse kitchen and 350 guest. >> it is smaller than many people's home kitchens. it is sort of a little portion that is small, high powered and all of the staff that works there are talentalented and at top of their game. you are talking about a great
team of professionals and an equipped kitchen. this is like a broadway opening. people are rehearsing and rehearsing. there is no margin of error. it is like a hotel or restaurant, where if it doesn't go well you get 10% off the bill. you have to hit this. that is the real difficulty of it. the dinner is well rehearsed but the pressure is there that there could be no slip ups. >> what advice would you give the staff tonight? what have you given them in the past? >> the chef there now is exceedingly talents culinary and great eye and palate for design. she will have no problemxcuti problemxcuting -- problem executing -- i don't have words of wisdom because she is doing a super, super job. the only important thing is that everyone pulls together and
realizes while it is a state dinner, the true stars there are not the chef or the service or the floral. it is the president and the first lady. >> walter was the former executive chef and the author of the book "whitehouse chef". now living in new mexico. thanks for being with us. >> my pleasure >> you can join in on the conversation at facebook and share your thoughts about the state dinner for the french president. we will get more of your calls in just minute. we are told now that the guest of honor, the first lady and
president on the south lawn, with tent setup with a monet-style them. we will see what it looks like inside the tent and the toast by the president and french president. but in the area known as the cross hall, the president, first lady and the french president in a receding line before they met with the 150 guest in attendance. [music playing]
is stay to the gentlemen, well they are standing up there ready as they are all of the time, and they say are you ready to accept the colors. and they come down and do a dignified move and come down the stairs followed by the head of state and the first lady. >> they go to the blue line and they have a receiving line with 350 guest and that is a lot to shake hands with. >> it is. but the social aids that you see in the photographs around the whitehouse are just wonderful. and they are so polite and nice at moving the guest through if someone wants to spend a little bit more time with the president chatting >> i know you have one story about being prepared for the unexpected and we will get to that. but first we will go to sarah from south carolina. good evening. go ahead, sarah. >> i wanted to ask how you
talked about the staff earlier and how well they are trained and ready for anything. i would like to ask her as far as the number is concerned, how many aids does it take to make everything run smoothly from the start to the very end and be able to have everything cleared away? how many is there? >> gosh, i am from north carolina so i love your accent. it varies on the set up the dinner. the flow is beautiful to see. you bring in wait staff that is trained very well and knows how to place the plates down all at the same time. i don't know how many. i think we have had as many as
50-60 waiters that move. it is like a butterfly show the way they move in and out. it is cleaned up by the time the next course is coming out. they are very well trained. but the numbers vary based on the table and how easy it is to move. you have 200 so you have to think about moving the extra staff around. >> tim is on the phone from alexander, virginia. >> thanks for taking my call. i think you did a great job as social secretary. put i would like to know how did you make sure you got all of the etiquette and protocol issues just right? >> that is a good question. the preview social secretary are
a great group. and now we have the first male social secretary. and we have been supportive of him. but they are a wonderful group that will help with anything. you can call and say what do you do in this situation. i worked with marsha who is the chief of protocol when i took over. so i could pick up the phone and is ask her anything. she was so nice and lovely working with it: it isn't partisan. we were there to help each other. >> the formality of the event as you look at the wait staff and everyone in their finest. can this be stressful for guest?
>> it can be. you wear clothes that are not comfortable. and they are walking on marble. but you sit down and have a nice dinner and the foods and wines are wonderful and you get to be entertained with wonderful ene ener -- entertainment -- >> we have our next caller >> how did you become social secretary? >> i was on the president's first campaign and wanted to serve in the administration so i was chief of staff for our trade representatives ron kirk. when the previous secretary, rogers went back to chicago, the president asked if i would do the job. it was a big ask but i am glad i
did it was it was fulfilling. >> during the first state dinner, guest got in that were not supposed and things changed to make sure that didn't happen again. can you explain? >> i think after that happened people stepped back and said this shouldn't have happened and let's make sure every i is dotted and everything t is crossed. we were more diligent and i went to bed with the guest list under my pillow and made sure every guest came through. >> the invitation is something you cannot miss in the mail because it is thick on heavy bonded paper and there is a lot to it. >> you can feel the print on it, too. it is wonderful. it is as a nice thing. it is the way things should be. >> there is a menu at the table?
>> a menu people can take home as a keepsake. it has the menu and wine. >> i think we have the videos and we will show you as we hear from michael in west virginia. >> yes, thank you have taking my call. -- for -- >> i just wondering if michele obama's mother take part in the planning and does she attend the dinners? >> she is a lovely women and took part in the dinners i did and took part in the tasting. she has great experience with that and can say what needs to be added and what would go better with this dish or side. she is a great asset to the tasting.
>> can you put a price tag on what this cost the whitehouse? >> i think it varies. you know, there are -- it takes a lot to put them on. it can be a little pricier than your average dinner party >> the president is going to be travelling to france for the 70th anniversary for the d-day invasion. let's go to georgia. good evening. >> good evening, caller. >> i am impressed by the protocol of you. i was a lucky person -- i am a united states citizen from pakist pakistan region. and i welcomed president in
1979. if there is a muslim guest, how do you serve them? >> if the head of state has dietary restrictions we know that way ahead of time. we work with their staff and find out if they have dairy sensitiveties or don't like b s brusle sprouts or something. >> is there an exchange of gifts and how is that determined? >> there is an exchange of gifts. the protocol office at the state department does of the work. they are amazing and spend months on doing their homework. what does steve like? what are his hobbies? what are his favorite foods?
they dig around and find out stories that would make a good gift >> what is the proper etiquette for, in this case, the president of france to send a thank you to the first lady and president? do they send a note? >> i don't think if i have seen a note if a note has come. it is hard to get mail into the whitehouse. but i would imagine a note would be good. ...
we use people from the state dining room into the eastern. so there were able to have some coffee and move on into the east room. it varies, you know, a dinner by dinner. >> host: final question to you have to be prepared for everything, including a wardrobe malfunction. >> guest: yes to my wardrobe malfunction. as you launch a saw, the private quarters, that usually takes three minutes. and while they are lined up waiting, the president is binding his jacket, the button pops off. >> host: the president of china. >> host: to 5 feet you know,
president obama. and that took about ten minutes. so the guests were wondering ball was going on. we have of wardrobe malfunction and everything went smoothly after that. >> host: julianna smoot, thank you for being with us speech to take you so much. >> host: we want to share with you more from the winehouse. arriving shortly after 7:00 eastern time to be greeted by the president and first lady. this is what it lovelock.
welcome to the french president. now at this hour the french president and the american president toasting each other taking place in a tent that has been described by writers as a monet masterpiece. coming up shortly you will have a chance to see what it looks like inside. we cannot bring it to you live because of -- because of the logistics'. he will be a will to appeal it out and show it to you momentarily. while the president of france was arriving, on the lower level guests were arriving. 350 guests invited for tonight state dinner and we will watch the scene as it unfolded late tonight. [inaudible conversations] >> ambassador charles rifkin.
[laughter] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> mr. anderson this is steve holland. it jeff zucker and steve holland , longtime white house correspondent for writers. again, you're looking at the arrival of the guests that began around 6:30 p.m. this evening in an area known as the bookseller. they then moved upstairs for a reception and then took a trolly a short distance on the south side of the white house for the actual debtor itself. the state dining room and east room not able to handle the 350
guests to honor the french president. so this is what the scene looks like inside the south lawn to and to to replicate a money money-inspired setting in much have that transportation of a spring-like the man and a test by the president of the united states in honor of the president of france. [applause] [applause] >> a good evening, everybody. please have a seat. [laughter] michele and i are so honored to welcome you to the white house as we